Gardaí ‘being failed’ over their mental health

Frontline gardaí are calling for an independent survey of stress levels, claiming management is “failing” staff in relation to mental health.

The call was made as investigations continue into the sudden death of a senior detective in north Dublin.

Det Supt Colm Fox, a married father of three, was found dead in his office at Ballymun Garda Station on Saturday night.

The death is being treated as a personal tragedy. It is understood a note was left at the scene.

A chief superintendent from an outside division is investigating the matter and will complete a file for the coroner and an inquest will be held. The Garda Ombudsman is also investigating, as is standard.

The death of Det Supt Fox follows five or six known cases of death by suicide involving gardaí in 12 months.

Det Supt Fox, aged in his mid-50s, was the detective in charge of the Dublin Northern Region. He led investigations into the Regency attack and a Ballymun feud.

John O’Keeffe, spokesman for the Garda Representative Association, said the tragedy was received by members with “shock and sadness”.

He declined to directly comment on it, out of respect, but said the GRA was repeating general concerns.

“The GRA calls for an immediate occupational stress survey to be commissioned by management for GRA members,” he said.

“Psychological and/or social risk assessments are required under health and safety legislation and frontline gardaí are being failed at every turn when it comes to their mental health.”

A Garda source said the number of suicides was “very high” within the last year. He said the Employee Assistance Service is voluntary for members, not an automatic requirement. Gardaí also operate a 24-hour helpline and offer one-to-one counselling.

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